The number of homes sold in the four county metro Milwaukee area rose 6.1 percent in September, compared to a year ago, to 1,844, according to the latest report from the Greater Milwaukee Association of Realtors.
The number of homes sold in September rose 9.5 percent in Milwaukee County, 2.8 percent in Washington County and 1.7 percent in Ozaukee County, compared to a year ago. September home sales in Waukesha County were the same as a year ago.
During the third quarter of this year the metro area had 17,342 home sales, up 7.5 percent compared to the third quarter of 2015. Milwaukee County home sales were up 11.8 percent in the quarter, sales in Washington County were up 5.5 percent and sales in Waukesha County were up 2.9 percent in the quarter. Sales in Ozaukee County dipped 0.9 percent in the third quarter.
The hottest third quarter local markets included Merton, with a 37 percent sales increase; Mukwonago, with sales up 16 percent and West Bend, with sales up 12 percent.
The number of homes listed for sale in the metro area dipped 0.2 percent in September and was down 3.3 percent in the third quarter, compared to a year ago. The lack of listings is preventing the sales numbers from being even more robust said Mike Ruzicka, GMAR president.
“All four metropolitan (area) counties are experiencing strong market conditions for both the month of September and in the third quarter,” he said. “However, given the demand that exists, the market surely would have seen higher sales, in both periods, if the pool of inventory was bigger. The lack of listings under approximately $350,000 has slowed, and in some cases prevented buyers from acquiring a home.”
The strong demand and lack of listings is resulting in tighter inventory levels. The seasonally adjusted inventory level (the amount of time it would take to sell all of the homes on the market at a given time) for the metro area was 5.5 months in September, down from 5.8 months in August and 6.7 months in September of 2015. Six months is generally considered a balanced market in which neither buyers nor sellers have an edge.
The tight inventory is pushing up home sale prices in the metro area, the GMAR report says. For the metro area, average home sale prices were up 5.3 percent to $254,770 in the third quarter. Average home sales prices, by county, for the quarter were:
Milwaukee, $177,059, up 10 percent
Ozaukee, $314,097, up 6 percent
Waukesha, $299,577, up 4 percent
Washington, $228,345, up 3 percent
“While increasing prices are a welcomed situation, sellers should not automatically assume they can command a price or that their property will sell ‘as is,’” Ruzicka said. “Properties must be in good condition, priced correctly for their neighborhood and marketed accurately to capture top dollar.”
The metro Milwaukee area is in the fifth year of a post-Great Recession housing market recovery. While prices are rising, average sale prices have still not returned to pre-recession peaks, according to the GMAR report. Milwaukee County’s average home sale price is still 7.9 percent lower than its 2007 peak, Waukesha County’s is still 2.8 percent lower than its 2006 peak, Washington County’s is 1.8 percent lower than its 2007 peak and Ozaukee County’s is 0.4 percent lower than its 2006 peak. Home sale prices for the metro area as a whole in the third quarter were $254,770, 1.6 percent lower than its peak in 2006.
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